(Reuters) -Swiss drugmaker Roche raised its 2021 sales forecast after posting an 8% rise in nine-month revenues, powered by demand for COVID-19 tests and strength in the overall business due to newly launched diagnostics platforms and medicines.
Group sales in the nine months to September rose to 46.68 billion Swiss francs ($50.54 billion) from 43.98 billion Swiss francs a year earlier, the Basel company said on Wednesday, as diagnostics division sales jumped 39%.
"The demand for coronavirus tests remained high in the third quarter due to the Delta variant," Chief Executive Severin Schwan said, adding that there have also been signs of recovery in the pharmaceuticals unit since the summer.
Roche, which had flagged a slowdown in demand for the COVID-19 tests in the second half of the year, now expects sales to grow in the mid-single digit range at constant exchange rates. It previously expected a rise in the low to mid-single digit percentage range.
A plethora of new launches, possibly including an Alzheimer's treatment if approved by U.S. authorities, are expected to bolster future sales at Roche as it faces increasing competition for older drugs.
Pivotal trials for the Alzheimer's drug gantenerumab are expected to be completed in the second half next year, the company said on Wednesday.
($1 = 0.9237 Swiss francs)
(Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru, editing by John Revill)